Diving sculpture – one of many sculptures made of fiberglass to create a dynamic visual spectrum that complements the rhythmic flow of water. The impressive Waterfall at the Dubai Mall runs through the entire height of the mall and is adorned with these sculptures of human divers.
Every time I return from Dubai I need a few days to process my experience there. My parents have been living there for a little under 20 years now so I've been going back on a regular basis. Even before that, while we were living in Qatar we'd often fly over to Dubai with our school for various sporting events. I've literally seen Dubai rise from the dust like a bright shiny phoenix.
Putting morals and my thoughts on carbon footprints aside, I am always flabbergasted at what incredible visions have been realized in the city. The city began developing in the 90s at such a furious speed it was mind boggling every time I went back at what had been achieved. A new superlative was literally stumped out of the ground each month! As the bubble around Dubai grew and the media pushed the hype on Dubai further, I often wondered when that bubble would burst. No one believed it would - but it did!
Dubai was hit badly by the financial crisis and things began tumbling down like a house of cards. Property prices in Dubai collapsed by nearly half in the past year, which was the result of easy credit and overbuilding during the big real estate boom. It was the oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi who rode to the rescue and pumped billions of dollars into Dubai last year as it struggled to pay enormous debts.
For the first time I was going back to Dubai after a long gap of close to 2 years. I wondered what would await me. Had the once booming city of Dubai really boomed out?
Burj Khalifa: What was initially known as the Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) was renamed after the ruler of the richer neighbor Abu Dhabi pumped several billions of dollars to save Dubai from the crisis. At 825m it is the worlds tallest building.
Burj Al Arab: has become the international landmark of Dubai. It is the world’s tallest hotel and the world’s only 7 star hotel
I was pleasantly surprised. While it is obvious things in Dubai have slowed down and, for one who has often been to Dubai and experienced the turbulent rise, there was an eerie lull, nonetheless I experienced Dubai very differently this time. One would not really have been able to tell that Dubai was suffering a crisis by looking at the Dubai lifestyle people were living.
Between high heels, Arabian Coffee and fresh flowers Dubai offers everything
The Creek Club on the Creek
Bars, restaurants, cafés - and there are many in Dubai - were pleasantly full of vibrant and vivacious people enjoying a snack or a drink. Shopping malls - yes several of them in Dubai - were packed with people carrying bags containing designer labels and hotels - once again hundreds in Dubai - were alive with tourists. Dubai was, at least the illusion, alive and kicking. After the serenity of smallville Weimar, for me Dubai happened like a breath of fresh air.
While I love the quaintness and calmness of Weimar, I am a city girl at heart and it was easy for me to get caught up in the boisterous lifestyle. My parents live in the fashionable and upcoming area of Jumeirah Lake Towers - very much slap bang in the middle of newer Dubai. From their apartment we had lovely views of the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina. The ocean is a stone's throw away and the air every morning was fresh and salty.
View from my parents apartment towards the Burj Al Arab
View from my parents apartment across the Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina Harbor – view from parents apartment
It is the perfect time of year to visit Dubai with temperatures between 22 - 26 degrees C you can very much enjoy Dubai in all it's green glory. Yes - green! Painstaking efforts have been made to plant grass greener than anything I have seen in Germany, colorful flowers and a multitude of palm trees. Street side and beach side cafés were bubbling over with lively chatter and it was often difficult getting tables outside.
Relaxing at the pool of the Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah: one of many courtyards
Coffee culture – macarons and latte at Paul’s located at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach
Abra at the Madinat Jumeirah
Soeren probably enjoyed the swimming pool the best, which is located on the 37th floor of their apartment building, offering exceptional views of the Jumeirah skyline.
Out on the horizon – Soeren at the beach
Almost every time we are in Dubai, I must make a trip to the older parts of Dubai - the "real" Dubai, if you'll have it. The area around the creek is still the part of Dubai I love spending time in. Those are where the souks are - the gold souk, spice souk, electronic souk, textile souk, where colorful wares are displayed in small aging shops and where I really feel the aura of history. Because let's be honest Dubai does not have a very old history. We spent an afternoon mingling amongst the tourists and bargaining with the peddlers at the spice souk. But a word of advice - what used to be cheap is now a tourist trap so if you are not too good at bargaining (like my mother who is the true Queen of Bargaining) you're better off going to one of the supermarkets for your spices.
Colorful spices at the Spice Souk
Hot chilies at the Spice Souk
Food in Dubai is plentiful. Whatever you are craving for you will certainly find it here. Famous chefs and restaurants have all set up their outlets and branches in Dubai, often in several areas dotted across the city. You can indulge in South Indian idlis, Lebanese mezze, Japanese teppanyaki and French Macarons all in one day! And I did - which probably was the reason my tummy rebelled on me a day after I got there causing me to spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom. For a gourmet Dubai is exciting, for a gourmande dangerous but paradise!
The big bite – Burger at Paul’s at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach
Teppanyaki at Tokyo in the Emirate Towers
Sushi at Tokyo in the Emirate Towers
Macaron variety from Paul
The two weeks flew past us as we spent our days, relaxing with friends at the beach or the pool, shopping, sight-seeing, visiting friends, eating out or just relaxing at home with my family. Family time was important and Soeren got to spend a lot of it with my brother going to the movies or just hanging out - like boys do!
Colorful “hubbly bubbly” pipes
I loved meeting up with friends - I had the pleasure of getting to know Komal a fellow blogger over a few cocktails, cherished meeting TA, my old school friend and catching up over Starbucks coffee and spending time with my Weimar girlfriend BS and her family, at the beach.
Komal and me at Paul’s after enjoying a few cocktails at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach
Macaron variety from Paul
Earlier, when asked how many days one needs for a vacation in Dubai, I would say 3-4 would suffice. Now however, one would certainly need a week or 10 days to enjoy everything Dubai offers.
I've taken you away to Dubai a couple of times before. In 2007 when I showed you how Dubai was booming, then in 2008 we went behind the scenes of a pastry kitchen and I hope you enjoyed the trip this time round too.
H2Ope for Haiti
Before I send you off on your weekends with my best wishes I'd like to take the opportunity to inform you about a charity event for Haiti. H2Ope for Haiti is being organized by my absolute dear friend Jeanne of Cook Sister. From Sunday, February 21 - Sunday, February 28th, BA-CFF will be running H2Ope for Haiti, an online raffle to raise funds for Concern Worldwide's relief effort in Haiti. For full details and how you can help please visit BA-CFF as well as the H2Ope for Haiti JustGiving donation page. Justgiving will pay all the money raised directly to Concern Worldwide, less their processing fee, and donations can be made via international debit or credit cards as well as Paypal. Once the raffle goes live on 21 February, a list of prizes will be available on my site and the BA-CFF site and you can start buying tickets (£6.50 or $10 each)! The prizes will have international appeal and the generous donors will ship anywhere - or if you like you can just make a donation without buying a raffle ticket.
We need all the promotion we can get, so if you have a blog or Facebook/Twitter account it would be wonderful if you could mention this event to your readers on Sunday. If you would like to donate a prize, please contact Jeanne at emailcooksister AT googlemail DOT com.
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